USA – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed new funding across multiple aspects of US food safety system which is meant to solidify the agency’s capabilities in food safety management.

Additional funding aims to support innovations in technology and the new requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

In a joint statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., and Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas, the agency says the investment will present more opportunities to strengthen public health and bring innovative food products to consumers.

FDA attributes the need for more funding to changes in the food system including increased globalization, advances in science and technology, and shifts in consumer expectations.

The proposal is part of the President’s 2020 Budget and will help embrace new innovations to secure the food supply chain and enhance effective tracking and tracing of food from farm to fork.

The advanced measures will include continued improvement of its capabilities for both detecting and responding to food contamination when preventive measures alone are insufficient.

To enhance the creation of a prevention-based food safety system, FDA has proposed new resources to fund human and animal preventive controls and produce safety inspections through the State Cooperative Agreement Program.

The resources will help meet the need for an effective toolkit for both domestic food safety and imported food safety.

The FDA’s funding supports the states in conducting more than half of the domestic food and more than 80% of animal feed facility inspections required by FSMA.

Investing in innovation and modern food safety

According to FDA, the new resources will help prevent food contamination and enhance an effective food recall system using the most modern technologies such as Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS).

WGS is a technology said to have greatly increased FDA’s workload to identify and mitigate potential food safety concerns, by identifying sources of food contamination and outbreaks.

The additional resources target to support the use of WGS and expand the its ability when food contamination is identified.

The increase requested in the 2020 Budget will allow the agency to add new staff and resources to enhance signal detection, response to outbreaks and post-response evaluations, said FDA.

Efficiently tracking and tracing regulated products will enable the FDA to work with stakeholders, including industry producers, to more quickly remove harmful products or ingredients from the supply chain.

This will also be supported by blockchain technology that uses a decentralized, secure, ledger for transparency in the supply chain.

FDA says such technologies can reduce the time it takes to find a food source from days or weeks, to minutes or even seconds, in certain cases.

“While our primary goal in enhancing track and trace is protecting public health, this new technology will also assist industry by minimizing the number of products implicated in outbreaks of foodborne illness and other product problems that could result in the loss of millions of dollars in profits,” read FDA’s statement.

“When the lack of transparency in supply chains delays the identification of contamination sources and the root causes of product problems, the economic and public health costs can be considerable.

“An enhanced ability to trace foods to source during an outbreak will also allow us to conduct better and more real-time root cause analysis to prevent similar reoccurrences.”

In advancing food innovation, the resources will enable FDA effectively support industry as it develops and implements new technologies in food and veterinary products including biotechnology products.